Sunday, December 7, 2014


It's time to submit to the PSA's Annual Awards!

Each year from October to December the Poetry Society holds contests for poets at all stages of their careers. A prize for high school students, our Chapbook Fellowships for and our award for a poet over forty who has published no more than one book are just a few.

Annual Awards judges include:

Stephen BurtHonorée JeffersFady JoudahDana LevinAnge Mlinko, Jim Moore, Aimee NezhukumatathilAlan Shapiro, and Rachel Zucker.

Chapbook judges will be:

Marilyn Chin, Jane Hirshfield, A. Van Jordan, and Don Paterson

Accepting Submissions until December 22nd.

For guidelines see our website.  

Become a member of the Poetry Society
and enter our Annual Awards for free.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Claudia Emerson has died recently. She will be greatly missed.

Pulitzer Poet Claudia Emerson 1957- 2014

Claudia Emerson
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Claudia Emerson, whose book of piercing poems about one marriage ending and another beginning won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, died on Thursday in Richmond, Va. She was 57.
The cause was cancer, said Virginia Commonwealth University, where she taught.
Ms. Emerson strove to find poetic meaning in her rural roots and small-town upbringing, finding metaphors in the real and spiritual landscape of her native South. Like many Southern writers, she said, she explored the “irony of loss.”
In “Cleaning the Graves,” from her first book, “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” (1997), she writes:
The once a year we come here is as close
as my mother comes to mourning. These graves
are all she has of land she hated
The book that won the Pulitzer, “Late Wife” (2005), chronicles her journey from one marriage, through solitude and into another marriage. The poems are written in the form of letters addressed to her former husband, herself and her new husband. She laments the dissolution of a marriage of 19 years, celebrates her new independence and then addresses her new husband in a sequence of sonnets.(from The NY Times)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014



Poet Betty Jamerson Reed, a native of Western North Carolina, is a retired educator. She is most known for being the author of  two books documenting the history of segregated black schools: The Brevard Rosenwald School: Education and Community Building in a Southern Appalachian Town, 1920-1966 (McFarland, 2004) (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies) and School Segregation in Western North Carolina: A History , 1860s - 1970s (McFarland 2011) (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies). 

LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE  celebrates Poet and Educator Reed with three of her published poems. (read below) She also writes fiction. Currently she is completing a  novella based on a Civil War scenario and is completing a nonfiction study of three Appalachian educators. 

Other than creative writing, her interests center on family, especially her eight grandchildren, historical research, volunteerism, and Christian missions. A member of NCWN West, she is also active in other writing groups, and she encourages other writers. 

Three Poems by Betty Jamerson Reed


I won't cry,
Daddy's job's gone. The place he worked shut down.
"It's closed its doors," he said. "Our jobs are overseas."
Mommy said, "Where's the money gonna' come from?"
But the money ain't comin' 'cept once in a while.
We get Food Stamps and we're not hungry, 'cept for sweets.
So I won't cry.
We know the bank's gonna take our house.
Daddy says it ain't no great loss, but where'll we live?
Maybe we can go to Grandma's, but that's a long way off
And Daddy says there ain't no jobs there.
Don't know where we'll go.
But I won't cry.
The bottoms of my shoes have holes;
heels are off.
Mommy cut up cardboard shaped like my feet
and put inside.
I can't feel the nails now.
My clothes are gettin' too tight.
Maybe there's somethin' my size at Sharin' House.
I really want a bigger pair of jeans, shoes that fit.
Still I won't cry.
Daddy sold our trampoline and the TV.
"Every little bit helps," he said.
I sure miss watchin' cartoons.
Mommy said, "Sell my rings"...but Daddy won't do that.
He says better days are comin'.
I hope so, but no matter. I won't cry.
I just won't cry.

Published in Lucidity Poetry Journal, Winter 2008, p. 51 and
in Echoes Across the Blue Ridge: Stories, Essays and Poems,
 Ed. Nancy Simpson, 2010, p. 200.

Country Living

Daddy's drunk -- got a Mason jar of moonshine.
Sez Hyder brews good stuff.
Even those profs in Cullowhee make their own.
Daddy's drunk -- throwing chairs, breaking windows,
But he'll sleep it off.

Mom's smoking pot -- makes her happy.
Curses under her breath -- listening to copters
searching for plants on forest land,
grows her own weed -- not for sale.
But she'll sleep it off.

Tim's brain's fried, built his own meth lab
'cause his buddies said it's cheap, makes you high.
But he sees the law watching him, or thinks he sees.
He's scared and he hurts and life ain't worth livin'
And he can't sleep it off.

So how's country living, with crops failing
and debts piling high?
Everybody needs a beer to take the edge off,
just drowning in a sea of trouble,
and we wish we could sleep it off.

Published in Lucidity Poetry Journal, Summer 2011, p. 16.

An Octogenarian Ponders

Troubled nights prolonged;
days cut short.
My friends' lives--succinctly--
on headstones: name, dates
of birth, demise--
     drown my spirit's glee.
Time's threads, tangled with
gloom and sadness,
     halt my laughter and
speed the tears.
But memory rebels
and chooses joy!
     Joy, defiant, looks to
God for victory.
Advanced in age, daring to
reject grief's sorrow and pain,
my heart whispers
"There is no death.
Life, renewed in a distant
     garden, reverberates
    as  rich melodies echo
    from an angel choir."
There my friends, in bodies
of radiant glory,
await my coming, and with
that grand reunion
all curfews end. 

Reprinted with permission from Bereavement Publications, Inc., Living With Loss™, first published in Living With Loss™ Magazine, Summer 2011, page 23, 888.604.4673,

Please leave a comment. Your comment will be appreciated.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Celebrate the Publication of HANGING DOG CREEK by Mary Ricketson


Saturday, Nov 1, I will be at Hill Gallery, 139 Emily Ln (across from post office), Brasstown, 3-4 pm, reading poems from my new book and talking about writing and publishing.  Everyone is welcome.  It's free.

Friday, Nov 7, I will be at Curiosity Bookstore in Murphy during the First Friday Artwalk.  I'll be in the store to sign books, still launching Hanging Dog Creek, published by Future Cycle Press.

Obviously this is being sent to a bunch of my friends and fellow writers.  Thanks to all of you who read my poems and listened over these years.   It's an exciting book.  Celebrate with me, whether at these events or elsewhere.  And thanks everyone for your support.
Mary Ricketson

Sunday, October 12, 2014


If you live within driving distance, 
invites you to Writers' Night Out
With Open Mic Reading

Chelsea Rathburn and Jim May

Sat, October 18, 6:00pm – 8:30pm
129 Union County Recreation Rd., Blairsville, Georgia 30512 (map)
The Union County Community Center, located at 129 Union County Recreation Rd, Blairsville, Georgia 30512, off Highway 129 near the intersection of US 76. 
Come to the upstairs banquet room, which is accessible via stairs or the elevator. Phone (706) 439-6092.

Two featured readers followed by open mic. For open mic: sign up at the door, limit 3 minutes per poetry or prose reader

6:00-7:00pm: social hour
7:00 pm: featured readers
7:45 pm: Open mic

Held the second Saturday of each month, unless there are exceptions. 
Exceptions for 2014: May and October 
Note: Our calendar is updated to reflect the exceptions.
Facilitator: Karen Paul Holmes,

October 18, 2014: Please come hear 
the newest poets in town!  
Chelsea and Jim both teach at Young Harris
College and are award-winning poets. 
Please Note: There's been a slight change 
to Writers' Night Out: We no longer have 
a formal dinner service. Many of us just meet 
in The View Grill upstairs at the Union County
Community Center in Blairsville, Georgia for 
dinner or drinks. Then we have our program 
on the first floor.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scott Owen and Staci Lynn Bell are Featured Readers

Ginosko Literary Magazine is calling for Poems NOW


Accepting short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, social justice, literary insights for Ginosko Literary Journal.  Length flexible, accept excerpts.

Publishing as semiannual litzine. Check downloadable issues on website for tone & style,
Print anthology:  Ginosko Anthology 2,

Editorial lead time 1-2 months; accept simultaneous submissions & reprints; length flexible, accept excerpts. Receives postal and email submissions—prefer email submissions as attachments in .wps, .doc, .rtf. —or by Submittable,
Authors retain copyrights.  Read year-round.

Also looking for books, art, music, spoken word videos, literary landscape to post on website.

Ginosko (ghin-océ-koe) 
A word meaning to perceive, understand, realize, come to know; knowledge that has an inception, a progress, an attainment. The recognition of truth from experience.

Member CLMP.  Est 2002.

Ginosko Literary Journal
PO Box 246 
Fairfax, CA 94978

Robert Paul Cesaretti
Maggie Heaps

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Mary Ricketson, author of I HEAR THE RIVER CALL MY NAME and a new full length poetry collection forthcoming.

Janice Townley Moore, author of Teeaching the Robins.

NC Writers' Network West co sponsored by John C. Campbell Folk School announces POETS AND WRITERS READING POEMS AND STORIES 
featuring Janice Townley Moore and Mary Ricketson reading their original poetry.

September 18, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Michael Beadle Reviews Fred Chappell's new Poetry Collection


Wednesday, 20 August 2014 14:26
Poems to honor the insatiable mystery of cats
Written by  Admin

By Michael Beadle • Contributing writer
Anyone who’s spent serious time with a cat knows there are a myriad of ways to describe the feline mystery. They are inscrutable creatures. At times, indifferent. At others, intensely focused. Adorable and affable when they want to be. Experts of stealth. Part diva, part zen master. 
The great Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott once wrote, “Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of.”
Over the ages, writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway were devoted admirers of cats. Raymond Chandler wrote letters in the mindset of his cat. Poet Sylvia Plath drew curious drawings of cats. Truman Capote used a nameless cat in a key role for his novella Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Prolific author Joyce Carol Oates proclaimed, “I write so much because my cat sits on my lap. She purrs so I don’t want to get up.” Playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber immortalized cats with one of the longest-running Broadway musicals, based on the T.S. Eliot book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
Now poet, novelist and Canton native Fred Chappell delivers a splendid collection of poems about cats in Familiars (LSU Press), which muses on the enigmatic, beguiling nature of these animals we dare not stoop to call “pets.” The title of the book is a nod to the pagan tradition that cats embody a psychic connection to the spiritual realm. Poetry about cats seems fitting since both share an elusive nature. The poems in Familiars revel in that notion. 
Over the years, Chappell’s writing has transcended the art form with an uncanny ability to mix his Appalachian roots with rich literary references in finely-crafted verse that plunges deep and cuts to the quick. Imagine the kind of literary prowess that blends the ambitious visual appetite of a painter like Picasso with the intuitive hunting skills of Daniel Boone. Chappell is one of the true deans of American literature, having spent 40 years teaching poetry and creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and garnering state, national and international prizes for his poetry and fiction (more than two dozen books and counting). He served several years as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, was inducted into the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame in 2006, and has penned countless essays, book reviews and correspondences with fellow writers. 
In his 1981 masterpiece, Midquest (a Dante-esque mid-life perspective), he gathered poems thematically under the four basic elements: earth, wind, water and fire. In his 2004 book of poems, Backsass, Chappell put a modern spin on the sharp wit of Roman satirists Martial and Juvenal — the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of their day. In Chappell’s last poetry collection, shadow box, he crafted poems embedded within poems — the kind of mind-bending wordplay equivalent to 3-D chess.     
So you’d think it would be easy enough for a celebrated author to give himself a free pass on intellectual dexterity just once and wax sentimentally about warm-and-fuzzy memories cuddling a favorite tabby — a book version of those kitty videos that get 10 million views on Facebook. One could imagine a host of purr-fectly a-mews-ing puns that await this paw-sibility. 
Not a chance with Chappell, who once again delivers poems that elevate his subject with style and nuance, clever rhymes, sly humor and classical allusions. Chappell celebrates the sublime and stately cats, the midnight marauders and temperamental toms, the ink-stained footprints left across the pages of our lives, the thieves and detectives that haunt our film noir dreams. 
In these poems, we see with cats’ eyes what humans deem invisible. We see what hides behind walls, what glides past mirrors, what slinks through shadows. We linger awhile at the timeworn chair where kitten and kin have sat for generations. We pay tribute to those cats who stand guard, who know the whispers of history, who explore the depths of the unknown.
In “Passerby” we meet Black Margo who “stalks across a grave / Casting her moonlit shadow on the name / Of the tenant peaceful beneath the stone / In his bony frame.” What force draws this cat to wake the dead with the touch of paw on tombstone? One dark silence brushes against another in the middle of a nameless night.
In “Ritual,” we learn the initiation for cats seeking to earn their nine lives: “Do you vow by existence One / never to utter the secret name / Of any feline wild or tame / Either in earnest or in fun?” 
A whole cast of characters inhabits these pages — Jekyll-and-Hyde Emilia, regal Reginald, amorous Tom Juan, omnipotent Black Stella, and the ever-present Chloe (who, through repeated references to ol’ Fred and his wife Susan, appears to be a familiar in the Chappell household). 
In “Jubilate Felis,” we ponder the paradox of cat-ness, the whims of cat genius, the wonders of cat-like observations:  “For she will watch a Television machine with birds of interest in-/side the belly of it … For she does not know what I am laughing about … For she knows what Cat Nip does but not what it is.”
And yet, for all the majesty and grace these cats employ, they have their missteps and clueless episodes. Chappell illumines these imperfections as well. One famous feline star of the stage has fallen on tough times: “He hawks Kleen Kitty litter and flea collars, / Bowing to his agent’s decision. / I understand a chap must gather dollars— / But this is the saddest scandal of our age!” 
These are poems worth reading again and again. Who else could rhyme sang froid with bourgeois? Who else dares to write poems embedded within poems? Who else riffs on Shakespearean stanzas, ends a homage with a jolt of slang, and then deftly delivers odes on the subtle gestures of cat tails?
Cats have enjoyed star status for millennia — from their glorious worship in ancient Egypt to their glamorous cameos in Hollywood movies. If their personalities continue to be indescribable, unfathomable, impossible for us to discern, who else but Fred Chappell would be up to the task to give them their due in poetic verse? 
Michael Beadle is a poet, author and touring writer-in-residence living in Canton, NC.

Fred Chappell will read from his newest book of poetry at 3 p.m. on Aug. 24 at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. A ticket for two reserved seats is available with advance purchase of the book. 828.456.6000.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Untyying the Knot, A Book Review  by Nancy Simpson

Untying the Knot  (Kelsay Books, 2014) by poet Karen Paul Holmes is a first book that arrives in the hands of its reader fully accomplished with maturity not often seen in a first attempt. This is a book you will want to read cover to cover in one sitting. Be assured that is easy to do, for it is much like reading a satisfying short story with rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.  I am not trying to confuse you, it is not fiction. Make no mistake, this is poetry drenched in emotion with vivid imagery and fine tuned line breaks. In her art, the poet takes risks. She’s painfully honest. As a reader, we suck in breath and whisper, wait, wait, be careful, but the author releases all, knowing she can never take back one word.

Holmes connects quickly and fully with the reader on a sensory level, on an intellectual level and on an emotional level as she reveals step by step the breaking of the circle of life, the untying of her marriage that has lasted for over thirty years. Being left, humiliated by her husband and a friend, she uses up all her options to survive it, even tries to reconcile for the sake of the family. The most powerful poem in the book is “Telling My Mother” reprinted for you in full below.

Finally she leaves, hoping to find a new way to live. There is much of humanity in these poems. We can learn from this book, if you do not already know. If you have been divorced yourself, be prepared for a flood of old horrors to over take you and blind you. Do not imagine you can remain open minded about anything as simple as a metaphor or a caesura. You might have to read the book a second time, as I did. 

Untying the Knot is a book that deserves to be read for the sheer enjoyment of poetic accomplishment. The humor comes through, the skill of writing, and the skill of handling such topics as “She Who Will Not Be Named.” Step by step, we learn “I’m Really Not Crazy, but She Is”--and that’s when we get a glimpse of her-- named “C.” Finally she the other woman is identified as Catherine, a name destined to fall to the bottom of the Popular Girl Names List. 

It was hard to choose my favorite poem because as you will see, there are many very good ones. I choose the first one in the book, “Drawn Into Circles,” for I have known this poem since I read it in draft form and knew then it would always be a favorite. It is an excellent first poem in the book because it  sets up the Circle of Life theme. Holmes writes, “How life loves/a circle:/the sun/ cups of tea,/ pizza, roses, embraces/ wedding rings/ cathedral domes, bells/ with notes radiating like ripples from skipped stones/. The complete poem is  reprinted for you below. 

I recommend this book. Buy a copy for yourself and buy a copy for someone who needs it now.

From the Back Cover of Untying the Knot

—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men and Facts About the Moon
These poems are poems about the pains of a broken marriage. About half the people who have ever been married would be eligible to write on the subject, but very few, if any others, could do it with such grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity, as Karen Paul Holmes has in Untying the Knot. This is a courageous deeply human book.
—Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand and God Particles
In Karen Paul Holmes’s Untying the Knot, betrayal and sorrow are recontextualized into an acknowledgment of the transitory nature of relationships and the capacity to find joy through language. Indeed, in this work, one that dignifies a sadness so many feel, “a spark ignites the dry leaves” in lucid and radiant ways, creating poetry that not only enriches us, but possesses the potential to teach us ways to navigate and ultimately transcend the difficulties of divorce and the feelings of loss and grief such division engenders.
—William Wright, series editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, author of Night Field Anecdote and Bledsoe 
About the Author
Karen Paul Holmes has an MA in music history from the University of Michigan. She eventually moved south and worked her way into a career that involved her love of writing: She became Vice President-Marketing Communications at ING, a global financial services company. Karen is now a freelance writer and owner of two naughty Welsh Terriers.
Karen founded/hosts the Side Door Poets group in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2012, she received an Elizabeth George Foundation emerging writer grant for poetry. Her publishing credits include a number of journals and anthologies, including Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Main Street Rag, Caesura, POEM, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, American Society: What Poets See (FutureCycle Press), and the Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia (Texas Review Press). You may contact her through her web site:


Telling My Mother

She’s 85. Upsets make her heart palpitate
so we couch what we say. Or maybe we always have.
Now that Ken has been gone six weeks
my siblings and I confer on how to tell her
that he left me.
She loves him.

I wait until my sister travels to Florida
as back-up support for Mother, then call. Hear myself
somehow keep my voice from quaking.
He wants to separate for a while...depressed
since thyroid surgery. I think
he’ll be back.

She’s sad for me but surprisingly supportive.
Motherly. Modern. Sometimes couples do well
with a break: Their marriage becomes stronger.
I didn’t know any of her friends did that
but I believe her.

She visits me in Appalachia a few months later.
As we walk by the lake, he calls my cell. Some business
item to discuss. As usual, we try to keep a light note.
He chirps, Say hi to Baba.
(The name our daughter calls her.)
I cannot say to him
You’ve broken Baba’s heart too.

I put the phone in my back pocket
take her thin hand, let her rest on a fieldstone bench.
To her questioning face, I tell a small lie
His calls don’t bother me anymore.
I do not give her his regards.

Next day, she and I are driving
the two hours back to my mountain cabin after I’d read
at an Asheville Bookstore. Before we get
to the hairpin curves, it suddenly feels right to say
He had an affair.
He lives with her now.

She’s not surprised. Maybe by 85 she’s heard it all.
My contact lenses fogging, the road is a blur, but no
slowing down She was my good friend.
Mother, angry now, controlled
He never loved you enough.
He expected you to be perfect.

Though I know the route, I get lost--
we pass thick dark pines, cliffs, the fast Nantahala,
feel lucky for this scenic detour.
At home, I sense a burden was tumbled
clean in the rapids, washed
down the river.

Drawn Into Circles

Last evening, I placed fresh towels on both dog beds
heard scratching and rearranging in the night.
This morning, each dog lay curled
into a circle of towel
like a bird’s nest.

How life loves a circle:
the sun
cups of tea
pizza, roses, embraces
wedding rings, cathedral domes, bells
with notes radiating like ripples from skipped stones
the egg, the womb, the opening, downy heads
sucking mouths, breasts, eyes filled
with delight for bubbles
and bouncing balls.

Why do we box ourselves into corners
put our babies into rectangular cribs
build square houses and boxy buildings
drive cars to perpendicular crossroads
stare at newspapers, monitors, dollars
go to our rest in hard-edged coffins
slowly lowered into matching graves?

It’s a comfort
to imagine our rounded bones
becoming round bits of the globe
our spirits rising to orbit among spiral galaxies
joining those who completed the circle before us. 

(Please leave a comment.)

Buy your copy from  Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press
24600 Mountain Avenue, 35
Hemet, California 92544 (Book cover price  $16.00)
Buy on line from the press at $14.40
Also available at for $14.40
or contact the author for a signed copy. (